The Board of Education Will Hold a Special Meeting on August 26, 2022
PHILADELPHIA—The Board of Education will hold a special meeting on Friday, August 26, 2022, at 9 a.m. in the Education Center Auditorium at 440 North Broad Street. The public may attend in person or watch via video conference. The Board will consider a proposed Release and Settlement Agreement among The School District of Philadelphia, acting through the Board of Education, and Universal Bluford Charter School and Universal Daroff Charter School, acting through their Combined Board of Trustees.
Effective July 31, 2022, the Combined Board of Trustees ended its relationship with Universal Education Companies and Universal Community Homes (Universal Companies) which served as the Charter Management Organization for both Bluford and Daroff. As a result, the Combined Board of Trustees is responsible for providing key services required to successfully operate a charter school, including staffing and building maintenance.
Representatives from the School District of Philadelphia have been in constant communication with representatives from Bluford and Daroff to understand and evaluate the circumstances and assess the charter schools’ ability to safely open and operate this school year. Our priority remains supporting the students, families, and school communities impacted by the current circumstances. We remain committed to engaging in thoughtful and intentional discussions in the best interest of students, despite the realities of legal obligations and contractual constraints.
The School District has contacted families at Bluford and Daroff to consider enrolling in School District schools that have seats available for the 2022-2023 school year. Additionally, the School District has established transition websites and has been holding enrollment information sessions at the Haverford Library to assist Daroff families to apply for spaces at Bluford or to enroll in School District schools. Find the transition website for Bluford School here and for the Daroff School here.
On August 26, 2022, the Board of Education will be considering an action item to approve and authorize execution of the Agreement with Bluford and Daroff, which shall include without limitation the following terms:
Bluford may remain in operation during the 2022-2023 school year and provide an educational program and all required services to all enrolled students through June 30, 2023. It is anticipated that the school year for students enrolled at Bluford and Daroff will be pushed back to begin on September 6, 2022.
Daroff agrees to surrender and forfeit its Charter effective immediately, to close Daroff immediately, and to promptly dissolve Daroff thereafter. The licensing arrangement and understandings between the School District and Daroff for use of the Daroff School shall end upon the full execution of the Agreement, and the School District shall regain sole possession of the Daroff School.
Bluford’s maximum authorized enrollment only for the 2022-2023 school year would be raised to the Bluford facility capacity limit, which will be determined by the School District by August 26, 2022, and shall be between 636 and 700 students. Daroff students will be given the opportunity to enroll at Bluford. If more Daroff students apply than there are spaces to accommodate them, then Bluford will hold a lottery. For the 2022-2023 school year only, Bluford is permitted to enroll 7th and 8th grade students from Daroff.
Bluford agrees to surrender and forfeit its Charter effective June 30, 2023, to close Bluford as of June 30, 2023, and to promptly dissolve Bluford thereafter. The licensing arrangement and understandings between the School District and Bluford for the Bluford School shall end on June 30, 2023, and the School District shall take back possession of the Bluford School on July 1, 2023.
The Board of Education reserves all rights to take immediate steps to revoke the Bluford Charter should circumstances exist that place the health or safety of students, staff or both at risk.
In 2010, the School Reform Commission (SRC) granted a charter to Bluford to operate the Guion S. Bluford Elementary School as a Renaissance charter school. The SRC renewed Bluford’s charter in 2016, for a five-year term ending on June 30, 2020. On April 30, 2020, the Board of Education adopted an action item instituting nonrenewal proceedings against Bluford.
On April 22, 2021, after public hearings, the Board of Education nonrenewed Bluford’s Charter and directed Bluford to surrender and forfeit its Charter. Bluford did not surrender or forfeit its Charter or close. On June 7, 2021, the School District asked the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, to enforce the surrender clause. The Common Pleas court action remains pending. Bluford also appealed the nonrenewal decision to the State Charter School Appeal Board (CAB), which rejected Bluford’s appeal.
In 2010, the SRC granted a charter to Daroff to operate the Samuel H. Daroff Elementary School as a Renaissance charter school. The SRC renewed Daroff’s charter in 2015 for a five-year term ending on June 30, 2020. On April 30, 2020, the Board of Education adopted an action item to begin nonrenewal proceedings against Daroff.
On April 22, 2021, after public hearings, the Board of Education nonrenewed Daroff’s Charter. Daroff appealed the nonrenewal decision to CAB, which voted to deny Daroff’s appeal on July 12, 2022.